Mar 222019

We resumed work in new week by continuing slating the I section of the roof, Creating a roof ladder support system and getting the flashing line of slates onto the kerb underneath the overhang of the skylight done too.
One of the first jobs was to make a heap of kerb flashing slates which were made from cutting a standard slate in half down the long direction (to make 100mm wide by 300mm long pieces) and we then made a jig to hold our slate nail hole puncher in a fixed position and align each half slate to have a nail hole put in exactly 75mm from each end and 50mm from one edge.

Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


But also before we could continue with the slating, the roofing ladder support suspension system (This will be a stainless steel cable attached around the skylight, to which we can hang a roof ladder if we need to access then skylight etc) needed to have various components created, namely the stainless steel brackets which are 100mm long (a right angle steel bar) with a 12mm rod sticking out which is also 100mm long.

Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


The two pieces will be welded together (with stainless welds!). We got one finished so we could take it and mount it up onto the kerb at the start of the skylight. The angle iron piece had two screw holes and we used stainless steel hex head coach screws to fix it in place horizontally between the vertical battens.

Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


We then got the rubber membrane which is 250mm wide and stapled it along the first section of the kerb to all the vertical battens so it is ready for the half height flashing slates to cover over it, with the dangling part of the membrane to go underneath the final row of tiles.
Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


The chimney bracket was the next challenge! The square metal pole (50mm across) sticks out of the slope of the roof and we had to cut and trim each layer of the slates to fit around it.
Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


The pole had a rubber membrane stretched over and pulled down the pole and laid flat on the top slate. It was sealed with proper rubber sealant between the rubber and the metal pole and clamped using a black cable tie to mechanically hold it in place while the sealant cured. Then the rest of the rubber membrane was glued to the slate itself with contact adhesive to stop it flapping in the wind and provide a good surface for the rain water to run off correctly.
Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


We arrived at the point where we needed to sort out the last section of the valley trough. We had to analyse how the slates will be laying from the two slopes of the I and J sections of the roof and how the ridge comes into play as well. We made some adjustments to the fibre-glass trough to turn it into an arrow shaped and also trimmed off the “bull-nose” sticking up bit so we can lay down the flashing slate tiles protecting our ridge line. We mixed up some white resin with black dye until we got close enough to the mid grey colour and then sealed up the “hole” we created at the top of the trough and now we have a waterproof collector mechanism that goes right up to almost the kerb.
Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


We finally completed the I section of the roof, bar the last five slates which we can do from the other side of ridge when we are doing the L and M roofs, because we can organise the layers of the flashing rubber membrane pieces in such a way to ensure that rain water will always be collected and diverted down the valley trough.
Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


So we now have started the J roof and we have most of the markings drawn on the J roof with the regular 204mm spacings on the tile battens. Next job was the metal mesh inserted to cover up the guttering up to the outside corner and clamped down with the oak thin strips.
And got on with the task of putting on more slates, starting back at the bottom over the gutters, at the valley end and working left to right as usual.
Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


We will have a small break (Saturday and Monday) as we need to go and visit family down in London but from Tuesday, we will carry on with the J roof, which hopefully won’t take so long because it doesn’t have chimneys or kerb complications to worry about!!

Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


Ladder Support System Created, Roof Section I complete and Kerb Flashing Done


 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Mar 202019

A year on and it is time to empty our septic tank. The water was starting to go murky so we ordered the man with his smelly lorry to come and suck out all the waste and water from our tank.
We then gave it a quick wash down inside but it was fairly clean anyway.
One reason for the tank to be filling up quickly, is for the amount of kitchen waste we put down the sink, lots of peelings, green leaves and chicken bones etc. plus also flowers too!!
But when we have the main house built, we are having a water trap under the kitchen window, buried in the ground, which will collect up the solid waste in a wire cage and we will dump this on our compost heap instead. This would hopefully extend the life of the septic tank capacity and maybe only need to empty every two years instead.

 Posted by at 11:30 am
Mar 162019

For this week’s worth of work, with lots of weather interruptions along the way, we started the actual process of putting up our Slates! Using our new collection of tools and equipment, we projected a line up the roof at right angle from the Fascia to serve as the master reference line to work from. We started to use a blue chalk line to snap down lines from top to bottom but the rain nearly washed it away after doing the first 20 lines. So we reinforced the refernece line with a solid black marker pen and then marked each batten with 204mm spacings using a old metal tape which we prepared with marks so we don’t have to keep measuring the spacings each time.
After the marks were redone, the first job to do was to cover up the Gutters with our galvanised metal mesh (1 quarter inch spaced grid and holes) by aligning the bottom edge to the front of the gutter’s upright plank, stapling it down (on top of the rubber membrane already there) and then lifting the mesh up to the first line of the tile battens. Here we also stapled it down (using stainless steel staples) and then folded up the excess mesh backwards so we had a padding of this mesh to support the bottom line of slates hanging over the gutters (the padding acts like the missing third layer of slate). Finally, we screwed down a fixing cap of oak timber we had previously made, on top of the mesh and rubber, using stainless steel wood screws with nice large dome heads to clamp down everything. We trimmed off the excess rubber away and the whole thing now look neat and tidy.

Slates Start Going Up!


After that, We started in the bottom outside corner (the join between H and I sections of the roof) and working left to right, started putting on the slates. But the first task was to slice a dozen slate tiles to remove 112mm off their lengths, because the first layer which is hanging over the gutters needed this amount removed to align up with the bottom edge of the second layer. This ensures that any rain water flowing down the roof is still captured by at least one layer of slate before reaching the guttering. We had to smile because we nearly got caught by the “rookie mistake” of not turning over these shortened tiles upside down so the bevelled edges are visible from below and the first and second slates sit flat together back to back!
After that, it was a case of getting into the practice of nailing our nails in for each row before putting in the next slates (thus avoiding discovering afterwards that we missed some nails!!) and also remembering to turn the slates upside down when using the guillotine too, because the guillotine works downwards and causes the bevelling edge effect as the blade explodes through the slate.

We are learning as we go along!
The next thing for us to learn, is doing the diagonal shaped slates when we interface to the hip edge. After having sneaked a training video on the net, we had that one sorted too and we were able to complete 5 rows before the end of the day.

Slates Start Going Up!


Slates Start Going Up!


We continued on the next two days and doing three slates at a time for each row, working diagonally back towards the hip, this being the best compromise between doing more at once against having to lean over to far sideways (and slightly above) to nail in the next hooks and slide in the slates.
When we reached the inside corner, at the bottom of the valley between the I and J roof slopes and had to spend some time there to sort out the metal mesh, to shape it , cut it and bend it, to cover up the corner of the gutters and the end of the fibre-glass trough. We then completed a total of 9 stripes.
Slates Start Going Up!


Finally, on the last day, Saturday, we could work on installing the slates without pausing to cope with another challenge like a valley, we got about 300 slates up, we had to go and load up our three “boxes on wheels” (which hold about 110 slates each) with slates from the eleven crates waiting alongside our Loke.
We finished the day by installing the second fibre-glass trough section to join on to the first one. We are getting quicker and completed 15 stripes!
Slates Start Going Up!


We are about half way up and we will resume on Monday, weather permitting, and hopefully get the rest of the roof done by Tuesday. At which point, we will start on the J section at the bottom again!

 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Mar 112019

Today, following on from Saturday’s work, we designed and built a slate cutting guillotine with supporting stand which has rubbish collection built in.

Slate Cutting tool, Nail Containers and Slate Spacing Guides


The guillotine sits on top of the box like container and there are standard measured marks to help us repeatedly slice certain slates at various required sizes.
The next piece of equipment we made, was a couple of containers to hold the various types of nails (the stainless steel slate hooks and two sizes of copper nails).
Slate Cutting tool, Nail Containers and Slate Spacing Guides


Slate Cutting tool, Nail Containers and Slate Spacing Guides


Next item were two templates to guide us to align the slates at the required 204mm spacing, made using a 38mm wide batten with nails hammered in at the correct distances.
Slate Cutting tool, Nail Containers and Slate Spacing Guides


Finally, the second guide template was a metal affair with notches at the nailing points, again at the 204mm spacing but also marked are the half way points (the 102mm distance) between the notches, to allow us to align to the chalk line on the tile battens.
Slate Cutting tool, Nail Containers and Slate Spacing Guides


Hopefully these pieces of equipment will provide consistency, ease of getting the job done and achieve a neat finishing touch to our roof. We now need to have good weather!!

 Posted by at 6:23 pm
Mar 022019

Here is a summary of our work for the last 10 days ..
Using glass fibre and black resin, we sealed the complex downpipe channel three way intersection plus the two outer corners too. We did this to avoid the complicated task of laying the rubber membrane lining the gutters to go around the odd shapes of the corners and joining together the two incoming gutters (off the I and J sections of the roof). Then we glued in two separate straight strips of the rubber membrane, along the bulk of the gutters and sealed the ends onto the glass-fibre surfaces with contact adhesive.

Rubber Liner Installed in Gutters and Tiling Battens Started


Rubber Liner Installed in Gutters and Tiling Battens Started


The first strip of the breathable membrane we put on the roof is for the valley as this is always the lowest point for any water to run downhill so we laid down a metre wide strip with stainless steel staples.
Rubber Liner Installed in Gutters and Tiling Battens Started


Next things we had to analyse and test, was the valley trough (a moulded fibre-glass constructed object) that needs to fit underneath the slates, to catch all the rain water flowing down the slope into the valley. It is a deliberate method of allowing the water to “leak” pass the end of the slates and collect together and be diverted in a channel. For this reason, the battens needed to be spaced apart so it is fully supporting the trough on the bottom, and then supporting the two outer edges on the wider tile batten.
We made a test assembly on another valley on the roof first and worked out that three 38mm wide battens can be placed together (with a gap of 38mm between the inner single batten and the two outer battens) on each side of the valley, with a gap measuring 130mm wide between them. Then a 50mm battens is placed on top of the 2 outer battens to hold the edge of the trough.

Rubber Liner Installed in Gutters and Tiling Battens Started


Using our research, we proceeded to screw full length battens (4.5metres long) into place, on top of the breathable membrane already there, going up the I-J valley and then we doubled back on ourselves putting 90mm nails into the underlying rafters to provide a strong secured fixing.
It now follows that we can start on the task of mounting all the tile battens on to the roof. The breathable membrane goes on first, going flat on to the roof boards, starting the first line, overlapping the lower rubber membrane and running over the Hip and Valley ends. The membrane was held into place with the vertical lines of battens, in short segments that stop just before the top edge (To allow the next piece of membrane to overlap). Then the horizontal tile battens were nailed into place at regular spacing of 112mm apart, so that a slate will sit across three rows of battens and hook onto the hanging nail off the third line.
Rubber Liner Installed in Gutters and Tiling Battens Started


We managed to get about 20 rows on the I roof and about 16 rows on the J roof sections, just about half way up the slope.
Rubber Liner Installed in Gutters and Tiling Battens Started


Rubber Liner Installed in Gutters and Tiling Battens Started


On Monday, in the afternoon, we will resume this task of more wooden battens and probably have it all complete by Tuesday.

We are learning the techniques and methods needed on this section of roofing, and will be getting better and quicker at it as we progress!

 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Feb 202019

Over the last 10 days or so (with interruptions), we had installed the new Oak timber pieces to form the Guttering for the roof sections I, J and K.

Installed the First Three Sections of the Gutters


We carefully measured each section so the base board overlapped the upright pieces in an even way, getting the angles correct for the outside corners (needing approximately a 22.5° angles) and for the joining to the Downpipe channels (needing a 45° angle). We decided that we would put on a much thicker and taller piece of Oak timber to cover up the end of the Downpipe Channels.
Installed the First Three Sections of the Gutters


Then using two homemade metal scrapers to spread out the special bulk-filling PU glue, one for the 19mm slot in the Fascia board (with little notches to ensure enough glue is left behind) and the other scraper for the multi-finger tongue and groove joints in the base board and the upright pieces. We used lots of clamps to squeeze the joint nice and tight but we also had spacer blocks inside the guttering to make sure we didn’t bend the vertical fronts inwards.
Installed the First Three Sections of the Gutters


These Gutters being completed now allows us to start work on the roof itself, preparing it for the battens and breathable membranes etc. That will start tomorrow.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Feb 082019

These last few weeks since the start of the year (January 2019), we have been processing lots of Oak Timber planks and producing finished pieces to build the Guttering System for the roof.

The Track Saw

We took 85 planks off our Oak Storage rack, these being a nominal 27mm thick by 2000mm long and selecting them to have a width from 110mm to 160mm wide. We needed to plane down all 85 planks to end up with 100mm wide and 19mm thick. It was the case of using our new circular track saw to slice a straight edge and then using this new edge, slice the excess width off to produce a consistent 105mm width planks with the bench saw.

Processing Oak Timber to produce Guttering pieces


The Planer

Then our planer, with its two extension tables, took over the job to clean and flatten one flat side before all pieces going through the thickener mode of the planer to clean the other side and generate 21mm thick pieces. We stopped at 21mm thick, as the finish surface was very good so no need to keep going to the target 19mm. The final step was to clean the two edges and passing it through the thickener process to make a set of clean pieces, all 100mm wide.

Processing Oak Timber to produce Guttering pieces


The Router

The 85 clean pieces were then split into two piles, the Base board (of the gutters) and the vertical uprights. We needed more consistent and longer ones for the base boards (a total of 43 full length 2metre pieces). The remaining, made up of 34 full length pieces and a collection of random lengths where we had to cut some planks up because they had more twist and warp down the length (to minimise wastage during the planing process).
The first job with the router was to cut tongue and groove joints in both the base boards and the upright pieces. These are made up of four small “fingers”, located on the edge of the base board and on the lower side of the upright pieces so they come together and lock into a right-angle combined object. Then the upright pieces had a 45degree slope trimmed on the bottom edge so it provides a neat corner to the gutters. The final step was to trim a 10mm strip off the back of the base boards to provide a 19mm thick “tongue” that will slot into the Fascia boards.

The Cap and Covering Strips

Using the left over pieces from the earlier slicing of the wider planks, and more from our old left-over pile of strips in storage, we then produced lots of thin strips of Oak pieces, one size for capping the Upright sections of the guttering (designed to clamp and hold down the rubber liner and wire mesh), measuring 30mm wide by 10mm thick with all edges trimmed with a small 45degree angles. The second set of strips is for covering up the vertical and horizontal joints in the gutters, to disguise them. These Covers are a little bigger, measuring 35mm wide by 12mm thick, but only the front facing edges having been trimmed with the 45degree angles.

Processing Oak Timber to produce Guttering pieces


Processing Oak Timber to produce Guttering pieces


Processing Oak Timber to produce Guttering pieces


We have finished producing this set of Oak timber pieces for the guttering around the roof but only with the experience of installing the gutters will show us if we have generated enough wood to complete the whole circuit. It is not difficult to make some more, we do have some spare oak planks in storage.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Dec 242018

We decided to take a break away from our building work and relax, to recover some of our mental balance and stamina. We did do some other little jobs that has been hanging about for a while, like tidying up the workshop, recycling some electrical equipment, install new lighting and of course, organise for Christmas too.
We planned to restart work in the New Year after we have visited family down in London, to tackle the next job of producing the Oak Guttering for the main house.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm
Nov 262018

We continued with the task of slicing up the wider rolls (four of them) into a little bit narrower width (380mm because we are using narrower slates than we envisaged months ago when we bought the rubber), using our dispenser with the razor blade as the cutting tool. But we discovered that the rubber material had too much flex in it to keep it straight and it wobbled side to side and made a ragged edge, especially after pulling out longer pieces. So we had a think .. and decided to replace the razor blade attachment with a battery powered scissors instead.

Rubber Strips for Hips and Ridges Done and Metal Mesh Dispenser Coming Together


It worked much better but it was still awkward in trying to handle the rubber material and we ended up getting a third pair of hands to help to help roll up the cut rubber – we needed 1 person to unroll (the rubber is firmly ‘stuck’ on the roll) and 2 to re-roll (1 for each strip).
We now have a trug full of 15 lengths of rubber strips, for the hips and ridges, alongside another 2 trugs of similar pieces but for the guttering.
Rubber Strips for Hips and Ridges Done and Metal Mesh Dispenser Coming Together


So that’s that job done so everything was dismantled and we started making the next dispenser, this time for the roll of the metal mesh. This metal mesh is for covering the gutters to keep out large items like leaves, moss and other rubbish blown on the wind.
The mesh is a grid with 5mm spacings and the roll (being 920mm wide) will be chopped up into 300mm lengths and we are planning to use a guillotine like mechanism to cut the mesh. We will find out later on whether it will work or not .. time will tell!

 Posted by at 6:02 pm
Nov 242018

Today, we made a dispenser to hold a roll of rubber membrane (20m long strips 500mm wide wrapped on a cardboard tube) so we could easily unroll each roll of rubber and cut them to the required lengths. We had a list of 16 numbers, optimised to minimise wastage off these 20m rolls.



We now have a pile of cut pieces ranging from 1.4m to 10.2m long, ready to be inserted into the guttering when we get to assemble each section around the house.
We then modified the dispenser by adding a cutting module, positioned at 380mm from one edge so we can produce a narrower strip of rubber for protecting the hip and ridge lines. The cutting module was made by sandwiching a classic razor blade in between two strip of battens and then screwed down to the upper layer of the cement board.
Dispenser and Cutter for Rolls of Rubber membrane


Even a razor blade struggled to cut the rubber membrane when we tried to slide it through the thin slot. But we realised that if one manually cut a short distance first, it started slicing fairly easily afterwards.
On Monday, we will slice the remaining four rolls and cut a further 15 lengths (10 hips, 5 ridges).

 Posted by at 5:51 pm